A Place for My “Stuff”: Goodwill

by Kevin Delaney

Yesterday, I did something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time.

I took a clutter laxative and evacuated from my life some objects that have been occupying valuable real estate, both in my living quarters and my field of mental concern.

Useless junk that has been weighing me down and holding me back.

Stuff — irrelevant things that I’ve been dilly-dallying about getting rid of.

In part, I was motivated to finally flush it from my life by a neighbor who told me he just relinquished over thirty years worth of accumulated items. I recalled George Carlin’s routine — “a place for my stuff” — about the things we collect that serve little purpose to us, that we nonetheless force ourselves to contend with.

Why do we do it? Because it’s our “stuff”!

That, plus the fact that we just can’t endure the agony of parting with it.

The core of the “stuff” I got rid of was a large set of LP records that I purchased online several years ago — boxed sets of philosophy lectures. It seemed like a good buy at the time, and in fact it was, but now I own the recordings in digital format, and have zero use for the records.

I often feel a sense of responsibility with old objects; I like to think of myself as a curator who is charged with preserving items for future generations. At least that’s the way I rationalize it. The fact is, I live in a very small area (a deliberate choice — it forces me to be ruthless about what I bring into my life). I have virtually no space for anything that isn’t fairly drastically contributing to my happiness and well-being.

The records were bulky and heavy. I carried them out to my car in three trips. When I got to Goodwill, I took the entire stack in my arms and brought them in at once. Struggling to open the store’s door, I marveled at how this entire pile of recorded material can now be easily held on a small iPod, with plenty of room left over for other things.

I’d thought about selling the records on eBay, but I knew it wouldn’t be worth it. I’d seen them for sale there in recent years, and they generally didn’t go for much. Even if I could find a buyer, did I really feel like going through the trouble of packing and shipping them?

When I appeared in the store with the stack of records, several employees looked at me oddly. “What are these?” one of them asked. At one point, the manager eyed my donation with apprehension and said (in an accent I couldn’t quite place), “Someone will buy them?”

I dunno, but that’s not my problem now. The Goodwill folks accepted my castoffs, and gave me a receipt to commemorate the occasion. Now my life is slightly lighter, slightly freer now that I’ve liberated myself from obsolete “stuff” that’s doing me no good!

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Alison Golden May 18, 2010 at 11:33 am

As someone who has a horror of clutter, a rummage sale warrior http://rummagesalewarrior.blogspot.com, and a person who wears a wristband daily that says “Live Light’ I can definitely relate to this. Especially the Goodwill-eBay-will-I-won’t-I dilemma!

Melody Granger January 31, 2011 at 3:14 pm

You had me laughing at the ending!

You touched on a part of the process that is soooo huge… Is it really worth all the trouble to find buyers or sell your items? I’m huge believer in the easiest route…donating. Otherwise, you just have an excuse to keep hanging on to the things.

Great article!

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